Re: The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)

From: Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 16:05:30 +0000

At 02:19 PM 12/14/01 -0500, Arthur Smith wrote:

>So, the question again: what level of copy-editing is actually
>justified, on grounds of the need for accessibility of that scientific

I entered the scholarly publishing business in 1967 and this problem was
being debated then -- long before electronic publication! Traditionalists
in scholarly publishing (as in other branches of the publishing industry,
and indeed in the printning industry) called for very high standards of
copy-editing and proof-reading. Iconoclasts suggested that the vast
majority of users never noticed the odd error or inconsistency, and that a
more superficial copy-edit would do. Over the years since, pragmatism has
ruled and standards of copy-editing have gradually fallen. Arthur is right
to emphasise accesibility as the key parameter -- if the copy-editing is so
bad that the readers (especially those reading in a language not their
mother tongue) can't understamd the content, then standards have fallen too
far. How much correct spelling, grammar, punctuation and so on matter
beyond that basic level is a matter for general political debate, rather
than specialised debate here. My guess is that, as with other publication
costs, the costs of copy-editing could be quite a lot less than the
traditional publishers say, but not nothing. And if they are not nothing
we are back to the need for a source of (modest) funding. I'm with Stevan
in thinking that the author (or rather the author's research funder) is the
best source for those modest funds. Opposition to this idea is usually
based on the belief that it wouldv represent an additional cost over
present university expenditures, whereas it should go hand in hand with
library savings because the jouirnals are now free to readers.

Fytton Rowland.

Fytton Rowland, M.A., Ph.D., F.I.Inf.Sc., Lecturer,
Deputy Director of Undergraduate Programmes and
Programme Tutor for Publishing with English,
Department of Information Science,
Loughborough University,
Loughborough, Leics LE11 3TU, UK.

Phone +44 (0) 1509 223039 Fax +44 (0) 1509 223053
Received on Mon Dec 17 2001 - 18:21:28 GMT

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